From the Editor's Desk
Since 1972, when Peacework began its run, activists have made feminism, environmentalism, disability rights, and queer liberation into unstoppable global movements; smallpox has been eradicated and the global infant mortality rate, according to UNICEF, has been roughly cut in half by public health advocacy; and citizens by the millions have participated in nonviolent revolutions which have overthrown repressive regimes from Poland to the Philippines. Since the 1970s, a global democratic wave has swept rigid dictatorships overboard.
Here in the US, among other achievements, protest movements have ended military conscription (although not the poverty draft) and won equal access for counter-military-recruitment activists in schools; passed the Clean Air and Water Acts; made important steps toward reproductive justice for all women; ended sterilization abuse; created a network of rape crisis centers and shelters for women who've been battered; finally stopped the US war against Southeast Asia; halted the expansion of nuclear power; reversed the nuclear arms race; curtailed wars against the people of Central America; loosened the straitjacket of heterosexism; won passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act forbidding discrimination; and put anti-corporate globalization perspectives onto the world's ideological map via the Seattle WTO protests and many other demonstrations around the world..
And yet, despite these gains, economic democratization seems no closer; the world has not prevented genocidal killing from proceeding in Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda, and Darfur; ethnic wars and religiously motivated violence continue from the Congo to Israel/Palestine (and in the US, with attacks on abortion clinics); there are now approximately 33 million people worldwide infected with HIV (though UNAIDS reports the number of new infections has finally started to decrease, from 3 million in 2005 to 2.7 million in 2007); global powers, particularly the US, continue to sell weapons, invade states, and wage wars around the world; torture and human rights abuses have found new apologists and proponents across the globe and here in the US following the September 11, 2001 attacks; and the possession and proliferation of nuclear weapons continue to threaten the existence of human life on this planet.
Yet, as Chinese independent union activists proclaim in the pages inside, "where there is oppression, there is resistance." And, as I've had the privilege to witness as co-editor of Peacework, where there is creative defiance, there is beauty.
In Jane Wagner's scintillating play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, aliens try to understand human cultures while Trudy, a homeless woman, played by Lily Tomlin, acts as their guide. Early in the play, Trudy tries to explain human artistic endeavor by showing the aliens the difference between Campbell's soup and Warhol's painting of the can. The painting calls on us to appreciate the potentially sublime beauty of everyday life.
Towards the closing of Search for Signs, the aliens attend a play, and finally understand what it means to get goose bumps in response to an artistic creation. Trudy reports, "to see a group of strangers sitting together in the dark, laughing and crying about the same things... that just knocked 'em out. They said, 'Trudy, the play was soup; the audience, art.'"
All around the world, individuals and groups facing oppression, and people hoping to build more caring societies, continue to craft the masterpiece of a nonviolent world. Attempting to curate these inspirational acts as co-editor of Peacework has continually given me goose bumps. I'm grateful to AFSC, and to you, the supporters and readers of Peacework, for providing me this vantage point.
Peacework Magazine has strived, and we will continue to endeavor in our online incarnation, to feed these movements. Peacework is soup; nonviolent activism, art.
- Sam Diener, Co-Editor